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Many factors played role in locating city's new fire station

Many factors played role in locating city's new fire station

June 24th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

The image above is an architect's rendering of the new Jefferson City fire station No. 2 at the corner of East McCarty Street and Robinson Road.

Location. Location. Location.

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The real estate agent mantra is also one of the main considerations when constructing a new fire station because it hinges on who the fire station will service and the time it takes for firefighters to respond to emergencies.

For the new Fire Station No. 2, it took a team of firefighters, architects and engineers nearly a year to find the right spot. Earlier this month, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at 3025 Robinson Road for the new station, which Curtis-Manes-Schulte Inc. will construct for $2.9 million.

Before settling on the Robinson Road location, many items had to be considered before deciding where Fire Station No. 2's new home would be.

Selecting the location for a new fire station is "one of the most important factors to consider," Fire Chief Matt Schofield said. That's why a team consisting of members from the fire department — one firefighter, a driver, captain and chief officer — along with engineers and architects with The Architects Alliance scouted about a half-dozen sites, listing pros and cons of each. They considered everything from size of the land and location to traffic flow and subsurface conditions — environmental support for the building.

The primary item the team kept in mind was ensuring the fire station remained in the same service area.

"You want to keep them in the service area that it's in (because) the people in that fire district depend on that thing being there," said Cary Gampher, a principal architect with The Architects Alliance. "It's been there since the 1970s so you don't want to move it very far. If you do move it, you want to improve the situation, make it better if you can. So getting closer to major highways is important and still feel like that neighborhood has the fire station in the general location."

Schofield added: "There is significant infrastructure on the east side of the city, (so) we need to be positioned well to protect."

The new location will give firefighters easy access to Algoa Road, U.S. 50 and East McCarty Street, improving firefighters' response times, Schofield noted. In 2017, the fire department's emergency response time on average was almost 51/2 minutes, according to performance measures presented to the Jefferson City Budget Committee last August.

In 2016, the current Fire Station No. 2 received 773 calls for service, he said.

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Since motorists should yield to emergency vehicles, Schofield said, having a location that provides good sight line visibility on both sides can give vehicles time to react to fire trucks leaving the station. It also provides a safer environment for firefighters pulling out of the facility.

The curvature of the road at a fire station entrance is a safety consideration for fire crews, Gampher said.

"If you imagine you're driving a fire truck and you look left and you look right, the new site was the best site for them leaving the fire station in an emergency because they could see down both directions and it was less than 180 degrees," Gampher said.

The ability to see oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the street at that site was much less desirable, he said.

"They (firefighters) would have had to crane their necks in both directions in order to see when leaving for an emergency," Gampher said.

The new Fire Station No. 2 is also slightly elevated from the road, a feature the current station lacks. A common complaint about the original Fire Station No. 2 at 2400 E. McCarty St., Gampher said, was it sits about 8 feet below East McCarty Street, limiting visibility.

Potential growth of the city also played a factor in selecting the new fire station location.

While the Robinson Road site is only about a mile from the current Fire Station No. 2, it moved farther east in the direction the city is currently growing. If the new fire station was relocated west of its current location, it would have gone out-of-date quicker, Gampher said.

"This is a good relocation of station 2 because it's kind of a split-the-difference in moving it closer to the industrial part but yet it's still in the residential part of town," former Jefferson City fire chief Bob Rennick said at the groundbreaking. "If the city annexes any more to the south or east, there will be more residential developments. So from that standpoint, you're kind of positioning yourself in anticipation, but you're still not that far from the downtown. You have (East) McCarty Street, a good, open street to sail down to go to emergencies. From that standpoint, you're not really losing anything but what you're gaining is immeasurable."

Future expansion doesn't just mean city population, though — it also includes potential growth of the fire station itself. The new 10,500-square-foot fire station is more than double the current Fire Station No. 2. Along with several amenities — a training room, gear storage room, police substation, training mezzanine and bunk rooms — it will have 2.5 bays with the option of adding another bay if needed.

It also has green space on the east side of the property to act as a natural buffer between the new fire station and neighboring buildings, Schofield noted.

When looking at locations, Gampher said, the team had to ensure the land was large enough to not only house the fire station but provide enough space for fire trucks to drive around and pull through the garage.

The current Fire Station No. 2 does not have a drive-through garage, so firefighters have to back the large trucks into the garage, which is "somewhat dangerous and cumbersome," he added.

All of these criteria would apply when finding a location for any new fire stations, Schofield said, adding "we believe that our efforts over the last few years will be transferable to any future fire station projects."

While Fire Station No. 2 will be on Robinson Road and is anticipated to open in early 2019, there are still plans to construct a future Fire Station No. 6 near the St. Mary's Hospital on Mission Drive. The hospital, which opened in 2015, donated the land to the city and county for a public safety station, but the donation has a time constraint — the station must be built within 12 years of the hospital's dedication.

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Not included in the $2.9-million contract with Curtis-Manes-Schulte Inc. were furniture fixtures and equipment, breathing air compressor and bottle fill system, and the remaining professional services under contract are not included in the $2.9-million contract — a total of $216,450.

The total project cost is $3,188,724, about $470,000 under budget.

The funding sources for the new fire station are: $1.2 million from the general fund; $800,000 from the Sales Tax F fund; $106,785 from the fire department's building and grounds fund; and about $1.6 million from the Sales Tax G fund.

The city still owns the current Fire Station No. 2 and will potentially sell the building once the new Fire Station No. 2 is complete, Schofield said.

The current Fire Station No. 2 was constructed in 1970, making it the second oldest in the city. Fire Station No. 4 is the oldest as it was built in 1969.